Physicians' Job Market: Practice Options, Shifting

Demand for Physicians Increases, Variety of Practice Options Declines

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The majority of today's physicians are being recruited as employees as opposed to being placed into practice ownership or partnership settings, according to a recent placement activity analysis by The Medicus Firm, a national physician search agency.

Only 11.7 percent of physicians signed by clients of The Medicus Firm were placed in private practice settings (as a physician owner/partner) in the first half of 2015. The majority of the physicians placed by the firm in the first half of the year, an overwhelming 87 percent, were hired on as employees of hospitals or group practices.

Additionally, regardless of the employment or partnership structure, the majority of physicians were placed into hospital settings (66.1 percent), while only 4.2 percent were recruited into a solo practice setting. An additional 24.6 percent of physicians were placed into group practice settings.

The Medicus Firm analyzed all the physician placements made through their company in the first half of 2015, from January 1 to June 30, to identify emerging recruiting and hiring trends for the year. In addition to the extremely high rate of employment, the mid-year placement activity review revealed a few other interesting trends.

Most Frequently Placed Specialties

The volume of searches and placements of psychiatrists increased significantly for 2015.

Other most frequently placed specialties for the first half of 2015 include:

  1. Family Medicine – 18.6% of total placements
  2. Internal Medicine – 11%
  3. Ob/Gyn – 5.9%
  4. Psychiatrists and Hospitalists – (tie) at 5% each

The firm's 2015 placements so far included a wide variety of over 40 different types of specialists and sub-specialist providers. Over one-third of all the placements were in primary care — internal medicine, family medicine, or pediatrics.

Rural vs. Urban

Another interesting trend continuing to develop is the added growth of physician placements, especially by a retained, specialized firm, in urban and mid-sized communities. This is another dramatic shift over the past 10 to 15 years. Back then, the vast majority of clients seeking assistance from a highly specialized retained firm would have been rural hospitals. However, more placements happened in urban, suburban, and mid-sized communities, than in rural settings. The placement mix for the first half of the year is not significantly variant from the mix of active searches (which includes open, unfilled searches).

Here are the provider placements by community size:

  • 35 percent mid-sized communities (up from 28 percent in 2014)
  • 33 percent urban (same as 2014, but high compared to previous years)
  • 32 percent rural (<25,000 pop) (down from 37.56 percent in 2014)

Demand vs. Options

While the demand for physicians and advanced practice providers is as strong as it has ever been, physicians may actually see the variety of options decrease, while the volume of openings increases or remains high.

According to The Medicus Firm, due to increased consolidation in the form of mergers and acquisitions throughout the healthcare industry, the variety of options for physicians may actually start to decline. Today's physicians may have many different regions and locations from which to choose, but within a given area, the only options may be hospital employment at one of two large hospitals in an area, whereas physicians of yesteryear could choose from a wider variety of multiple groups, practice structures, different facilities, and partnership options.

Disclosure: Andrea Clement Santiago, author of this article, is also employed by The Medicus Firm.

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